Taoiseach confirms plans for ‘REPS plus’ in programme for government

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has confirmed that there are plans to include a scheme similar to the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) in the programme for government.

Speaking today during a Government press briefing, the Taoiseach addressed the current government formation talks involving Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

He said: “From my own party’s point of view, we have clear priorities…we have ideas around a ‘REPS plus’ programme.”

AgriLand reported last week that a scheme of this nature had come up for discussion in the talks.

According to sources, the scheme had been described, for the purposes of the talks, as “REPS Mark 2 / Mark II”, though this will not necessarily be the title of the scheme.

It is also understood that the negotiating parties are looking at the possibility of funding the scheme through revenue collected from the Carbon Tax, rather than through funding allocated in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The Taoiseach also said today that it was likely that a programme for government would be agreed next week.

€50 million for beef finishers

The key point of today’s briefing from an agricultural point of view was the announcement of a €50 million scheme for beef finishers.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed announced cabinet approval for an allocation of the money to provide for a support scheme for beef finishing farms which have been severely impacted by the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Commenting at the briefing, Minister Creed said: “I am acutely aware of the ongoing market disturbance related to Covid-19 in the Irish beef sector and the significant consequences for beef farmers and for the rural economy as a whole.

“Farmers with finished animals have suffered a dual impact over recent months: reduced prices; and a reduced kill.

“This support for the beef sector is an emergency response to a dramatic economic shock, to mitigate the worst Covid-19 economic impacts on these farm enterprises,” the minister added.